Throughout the 2009-2010 academic year, the Northeast-10 and its member institutions will be featuring student-athletes across the conference in the brand new ‘Student-Athlete Spotlight’ section on the Northeast-10 website. Our 14th installment, submitted by Jill Bradford, Sports Information Student Intern at Merrimack College, features women's tennis player Cristina Lucin.
By Jill Bradford, Merrimack '10
Often times, the discipline and dedication required in collegiate athletics are, although on a lesser scale, compare to that of the military. No one at Merrimack may be able to draw such connections better than Cristina Lucin, a senior on the women's tennis team from Wesley Chapel, Florida, who spent her freshman year at West Point before transferring to the University of South Florida where she joined the Coast Guard, before finally ending up at Merrimack.
Last year, Lucin helped the Warriors to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history and this year a second straight berth in the Northeast-10 Conference tournament. Although Merrimack graduated four seniors from that tournament team a year ago, Lucin assumed the No. 1 position at singles and doubles rather seamlessly.
"Our 2009-10 goal was to make the NE-10 Tournament and to be ranked in the NCAA East Region," Lucin’s coach, Chris Stevens said midseason. “We went through some growing pains with a relatively young team, but we have had a great pair of senior leaders in Cristina [Lucin] and Caitlin [Dunn].”
Leading the Warriors at No. 1 singles with a 13-1 record in dual match play this year, Lucin has Merrimack set to square off with top-seeded Southern New Hampshire in the Conference quarterfinals.
In addition to her success on the court, Lucin's military experience has played a significant role in her life and has proved transferable towards her success at Merrimack. Currently serving in the Coast Guard Reserves as a Petty Officer, First Class, her experiences include working in the Sector Boston Command Center where she was responsible for search and rescue, pollution response, merchant arrivals and departures, and marine events. In 2005, Lucin deployed to Lake Charles, Louisiana for Hurricane Katrina recovery and response. In 2008, she was selected to deploy to Naples, Italy for a joint operation with the U.S. Navy.
Lucin's leadership impact on the Warriors has been noted by Stevens. "There is a direct correlation between Cristina's military history and on her court success. She is very disciplined and determined and these traits have helped her on the court and will continue to do so in her daily life.”
Although Lucin chose Merrimack for its academic programs, Division II tennis turned out to be the right fit for her compared to West Point's Division I team. In addition to an incredible 10-1 record in Northeast-10 singles play and 7-4 mark in doubles through the regular season, a 3.97 grade point average in the classroom complements her on-court accomplishments quite nicely.
Lucin—a criminology major—has worldly experience in the military that few student-athletes get to experience and according to Associate Professor of Sociology Dr. Karen Hayden has played a significant role in shaping her as a person. "Cristina is a well-rounded person who balances a lot of responsibilities and makes it look easy, said Hayden. “She excels at academics, on the tennis team, and with her work in the Coast Guard."
Her latest endeavor was this past semester when she took part in a Criminology Internship with Neighborhood Legal Services in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Although the life of a student-athlete is demanding, Lucin believes her transition from the Coast Guard to Merrimack was fairly easy. "I was used to having a hectic schedule, so it was nice to have my schedule be constant. It was also nice being able to focus on school after being so focused on Coast Guard operations," Lucin said.
Upon graduation in May, Lucin plans to undertake a PhD in Sociology through continuing her education in graduate school at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst this coming fall. Having been offered a full scholarship for the five-year program and a Teaching Assistantship at UMass-Amherst, Lucin has a lot to look forward to, but with the workload will see less time on the tennis court.
“I’ll certainly miss my time at Merrimack and playing tennis for sure,” said Lucin. “I’ll be so busy come fall, though, I won’t have time to miss anything.”
The positive impact Merrimack athletics have had on Lucin in her short time here is obvious when she concluded, "Merrimack has provided me a great opportunity to play tennis in college again. It's definitely the end to a large chapter in my life, but being able to compete as part of a team has been an invaluable experience."